I’ve been preaching a lot lately, about the art of slow living, turning the speedo down a few notches and learning to be content with less. Sounds like a load of mumbo jumbo? Well yeah it can be, it’s never going to work for everyone, there are people who work best operating at capacity, there are people who don’t. I am by no means an avid follower of the slow living movement, I simply happen to of found myself stumbling into a lifestyle and mindset that is more conducive to it. So, in this blog I’m going to talk about the realities of it, or at least our reality of slow living.
There is no perfect solution
We’re all individual beings and all that. Like I said before I know people who thrive with 101 things on the go, I’m certainly not one of them. Getting rid of 80% of your possessions and moving into a 3,000 sq ft space (The B&B bedroom we stayed in at the weekend was the same size as our whole living space) isn’t going to instantly put everyone on the path to living more slowly. If you like the idea of a slower pace of life it can be something as simple as setting aside time for yourself in a day, or getting rid of some clutter it doesn’t have to be big radical steps.
Take the time to take it in
For me one of the most important parts of my day is the 15 minutes I spend entirely disconnected from the world (I promise I am not on the path to becoming a yoga teacher, for one I’m about as flexible as a lolly-pop-stick). However I do try to spend at least 15 minutes a day entirely disconnected, from everything, just giving myself head space. This time varies, it can be sitting on the front of the boat with a cup of tea when I get home from work, watching the waterways world literally float by. When we are in the marina there is nothing I enjoy more than taking a wander to the hill top, where a bench is conveniently located and just looking out. It can be 15 minutes in my horses field, sat on the ground picking clovers while they nudge me for cuddles (carrots). Granted it’s not always 15 minutes, sometimes it’s longer, sometimes shorter, but it’s lovely to dedicate a little bit of time in your day to nothing at all.
Think carefully about stuff
You may of noticed from reading my previous blogs I’m passionate about ‘stuff’ I’m on the road to recovery following a serious ‘stuff’ addiction. But my days it’s difficult. Stuff is the place I fall down more often than not, I have no impulse control when it comes to stuff. I’m working very hard on it, the mantra’s I repeat to myself, do I need it and will I use it. I’ve got much better at filling a shopping basket online, and leaving it there to think about, I often find after 10 minutes I can be more practical on my ‘need’ to have something. Of course I slip up, of course I buy stuff when I shouldn’t, stuff I don’t need and won’t use, but it’s a gradual process and one which I am starting to get better with.
To-Do vs Must-Do
Take a think about your personal and work to do list, I imagine it can stretch for miles. Or maybe it’s something you daren’t even write down. I was a combination of the two until recently, when I decided to get my life organised. I’m a recent convert to the bullet journal (more on this later) and the way I now organise myself is to take 15-30 minutes on a Monday morning to get things ship shape. I think of all the things I need to do in a week, I then filter it into my must do’s and to do’s. I work through assigning the must do tasks to days in that week, pink are personal, blue are work, the days of my bullet journal only allows for eight entries on each day, anymore than that and I don’t think your understanding the point. Once the must do points are in, I look where I have capacity for more, and insert the to-do’s. It might not work for everyone, but for me it’s proved the most efficient and successful way of getting my self in order!
Don’t be a slave to the ‘pings’
The ‘pings’ as I call them can be anything from your emails to texts or phone notifications, and they can really take over if you let them! Back when working in the stressful dream job, I told you all about, I struggled to stay on top of emails, that’s when I decided their must be a better way to do things. I decided to let some natural weeding take place, I put aside 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the afternoon for emails. By dedicating set time to them I found, much similar to setting an out of office half of the emails I was sent either evolved or answered themselves without need for my input, woo-hoo time saved for me, and having this clear time to dedicate to emails meant that Sandra’s cry for help with an accounts bake off didn’t take me away from submitting an event budget on time! It was a huge release. It meant I was more focussed and efficient at email responses during that set time, and that I wasn’t seeing constant notifications popping in to take me away from the other things I was working on. There’s no reason this shouldn’t apply to the other pings in your life, James is terrible for it, his phone pings and he must look, he can’t leave it, for me my phone can happily sit there until I have the time to look. Sure if I suddenly get a huge influx of pings I’ll take a quick look who they are coming from and check all is well if and only if required. On the same note I don’t know if I mentioned but a year or so ago I took up cross stitch as a hobby, you can see my wares on Etsy it’s the ultimate release for me, allowing me to be creative and getting me away from screen time.
The go to place
I mentioned before about my recent conversion to a bullet journal, visit their website it has a handy video on the homepage that explains exactly how it works a lot more succinctly than I could! I’ve been using this method for the last two months and it has really helped me to feel more organised. Before I had lists on lists, spreadsheets with twenty tabs and a diary falling apart at the seams. The bullet journal means you can include exactly what you want to, addresses, birthdays and payments? All in the front of my bullet journal. Monthly overview, spending budget and weekly tasks? Yeap all there too. Whilst you don’t have to be it allows you to get creative, which ticks a big box for me, and whilst it may take up 10 minutes of my day, it leaves me with much greater clarity the rest of the time. It’s a serious game changer in my opinion.
The pursuit of balance
A work life balance, the term is batted around so willy nilly these days and it annoys me a little. In the pressure cooker of silicon valley companies seem to think the answer to achieving this balance is slides between floors or sleep pods, I’m not so convinced. To me it’s being able to draw a line between the two, I don’t know if I mentioned but we went away this weekend, not once did I think about work while I was away. I now refuse to have a work mobile phone, a thought that, back when I had the big dream job would of kept me awake at night. What if I get a work email while I’m at home and should be focussing on making a balanced meal or talking to my best friend. Nope. My job gets my full attention from the minute I arrive to the minute I leave, important colleagues have my personal number and they can contact me should they absolutely need to (I can’t help but feel the knowledge that it’s a personal phone number makes people think twice about calling it at 8pm on a Tuesday to ask something which could absolutely wait twelve hours). Again I’m not suggesting this is a one size fits all solution, it’s just a pledge I made to myself and my family to help me to draw the line between work and home. This doesn’t mean ideas or thoughts don’t pop up while I’m walking the dogs or cleaning the sink, I like my job so it’s bound to creep in a bit, but I just make a note of these ideas, or whizz myself an email to remind me, when I’m in work space and can deal with them. There are jobs out there more and less conducive to this approach, but getting that balance works both ways, understand what works for you and what you need and make sure your employer is on board with that too, and it really doesn’t have to be a big battle.
All of these steps have allowed me to work my way towards a slower pace of life, like I said before it’s not one size fits all, and a slower life won’t be suitable for everyone. It’s seen me become what I believe to be a better person and happier in the process. Take a small step for a better you and you can’t regret it, you might even surprise yourself!
I’m pretty sure this will be my last blog of this nature, so rest assured dear readers I’ll be back to moaning about fires and randy carp in no time!
James & Kirsty